Tag Archives: Mexican

April 30, 2010 – What Chimichangas Mean to Me

30 Apr

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11 am

supermarket sushi

1 can of Diet Hanson black cherry soda

3 pm

El Chaparral

shredded beef chimichanga

Diet Pepsi

For some reason, I remember that the first Mexican food I’ve ever ate was a chimichanga. It was at a Chicago Mexican restaurant chain called Pepe’s. I came to the United States when I was four and growing up, Mexican food was a completely foreign concept to my family. But deep-fried food, that’s a universal language. Pepe’s advertised a deep-fried burrito and deep-fried ice cream. My brother and I thought it was the greatest idea ever conceived (deep-fried ice cream?! mind=blown) and begged our dad to take us. He finally did one day when I was either seven or eight. The deep-fried ice cream was awesome. As for the chimichanga? I don’t think I liked it as much. I’m pretty sure I almost crapped in my pants on the ride home.

This chimichanga from El Chaparral was the first chimichanga I’v eaten since my formative years as a young rabble-rouser roaming the “rough” streets of Chicago. Surprisingly, it’s not a common dish outside of the Southwest part of the country. Most restaurants that do serve chimichangas also scare me with their inevitable heavy-handed cooking. The odds are, if you see a chimichanga on a menu outside of Arizona, you’re probably at a real greasy spoon. El Chaparral, a 40-year-old institution in Sylmar, is such a place. This is the type of Mexican restaurant where the bar is just as prominent as the dining area, where customers prefer to watch MLB baseball over Guadalajara futbol on the many TVs, and where the biggest draw is the fine Mexican tradition of the all-you-can-eat Sunday champagne brunch. The most exotic thing on the menu is the sopes, deep-fried masa with refried beans and meat. Otherwise, it’s your standard tacos, burritos and large fajita plates. And then there was the chimichanga, and my mild curiosity to revisit a faint childhood memory was piqued. At El Chaparral, the chimichangas can either be described as two small burritos or giant taquitos. Either way, it had the same effect as the first one I ate many years ago, bowel-inducing. Ah, nostalgia.

7 pm

1/2 brownie

9:30 pm

a LOT of beer

2:30 am


1 slice of sausage pizza

After midnight, if you crave pizza but are too drunk to drive anywhere in LA, then Damiano’s is your only option. This is really the only reason why Damiano’s is well-known by locals, because they’ll burn the midnight oil to serve every last drunken appetite. If you can’t make the actual pizza joint, this means that delivery can take over 2 1/2 hours, as I found out many years ago at my then-girlfriend’s place in the Santa Monica area. Hey, ordering pizza from a place over 10 miles away seems like a sound idea when you’re drunk. Damiano’s best virtue is their beer selection, which is sizable. There are several imports and microbrews you can’t find anywhere else. You can only take advantage of this before 2 am, and only at the actual restaurant. But if you’re far, crave pizza and can’t go anywhere to get it? Meh. It’s not bad, and not great. The pizza’s nothing to go through too much hassle to eat. It’s much faster to cook a DiGiorno’s pizza in the oven than ordering one from Damiano’s. That’s exactly what we started doing after that 2 1/2-hour wait.

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Dec. 2, 2009

2 Dec

9:30 am

1 bowl of Reese’s Puffs

12:20 pm

Best Fish Taco In Enseneda

2 fish tacos

1 shrimp taco

1 horchata

Ah hubris. It’s amused me to no end to watch my sports heroes fall flat on their ass and get their comeupptance due to hubris. Tiger Woods cheating on his smoking hot wife for some hussy from Tool Academy? Hilarious in it’s sheer stupidity. Charlie Weis’ “schematic advantage” leading to his firing? What a schmuck. Jay Cutler? Fuck, I’m a Bears fan. I hope you catch herpes and swine flu, Cutler. I’m also sending a couple of “fuck you’s” to Brett Favre and A-Rod, for depriving me joy as a sports fan from laughing at your failings. How dare you succeed spectacularly.

Which brings me to a Los Feliz taco stand who calls itself  “The Best Fish Taco In Enseneda.” Subtle, you think? If I had to equate this place to a level of sports-hubris, it’d be on par with Rex Ryan’s New York Jets. They have just enough good moments to not laugh the place off entirely. I should point out that I have actually never been to Enseneda, so I can’t be an authoritative voice on this. Doesn’t mean I can’t try like those Holiday Inn commercials. I should start by saying that the decor looks like a place where Sammy Hagar exploded on it. Cabo Wabo! There’s only 2 things on the menu, a fish taco and a shrimp taco. This place is inconsistent as hell. If the tacos are fried properly, ie, with a light coating of batter fried in oil that’s hot enough, it’s pretty good. Sometimes though, I think the oil isn’t hot enough and that turns the tacos into heavy, leaden messes that soak up too much oil. Today’s taco mirrored that. I had 1 decent fish taco, another that was too greasy, and a good shrimp taco that was better than my previous visit (when I had two great fish tacos and a horrible shrimp one)

There’s also a massive salsa bar. Most of them are labeled “hot,” but none are that spicy. The mango one is probably the best one. The mild actually has just as much kick, but that’s because it’s saltier. All drinks are a $1. It’s a rip-off if you get a can of soda, but the house-made horchata’s a good deal.

5 pm

10-15 pieces of Trader Joe’s sea salt pita chips

8:45 pm

Staples Center

1 Philly cheese steak

1 large Bud Light

Why did I chose to eat at the Staples Center? $19 got me a completely flavorless cheesesteak and a large beer. Blah. The only worthwhile thing to eat at Staples Center if you’re not one of the moneyed folks in the suites is garlic fries. They crush garlic all over the french fries and it’s a highly satisfying oily mass of potatoes.

I went to the Clippers-Rockets game and let me tell you, outside of New Jersey, there is no experience more depressing in the NBA. Seats are half-full and even the die-hard fans who actually own Clipper gears could give a shit. I sat next to a real Clipper fan who was getting visibly upset by the team’s poor play. But with 3 minutes left, he sighed, accepted his team’s fate and left with his son, who regretfully is being raised in a Clipper household. It was kinda touching to see the father-son outing if I didn’t know that the kid was in for a lifetime of pain and suffering following a loser basketball team. You do know that the Lakers play in LA too, right? Anyway, the Clippers lost by 17 points. Fitting.

Also, here’s the obligatory link to the Donald Sterling article that shows how evil he truly is.

1 am

Golden Gopher

1 Stella Artois

1 shot of Wild Turkey

How can I turn down a $3 shot of cheap bourbon that I didn’t pay for. Thanks Kim!

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